It is late at night; the sky is dark. The weather is frigid, and the city is quiet. I stare at the empty sky—without moon and stars. I dislike darkness; it makes me depressed, so I am waiting for a star to twinkle at me.
I can hear the whining of wind, and then the stove in my room turning off. I feel cold, but I continue gazing at the dark sky. The quiet is broken only by the barks of dogs. The mountain of Karte Sakhi, in the middle of Kabul, is lit with colored lamps: white and red and green. It is such an enjoyable moment, seeing this beautiful view of Kabul. Moments like this make me wonder why the people of Afghanistan abandon their country. But it is obvious they want to live in a place with more opportunities, where their children can study in peace, and be away from war. I am overwhelmed with my thoughts and dreams, and remember the story of one of my classmates named Zuhal. It is a sorrowful memory and I get my pen to write this story:
It was the last days before we would graduate from high school, and everyone was happy. Our school is the largest school in our district, and our campus has a small park with poplar trees. My friends and I decided to go into the park and talk about how to celebrate our graduation party. We strolled through the park, laughing. We carved our names on the trees. It was fall and the park was filled with yellow leaves. The trees looked upset without their leaves, and the branches seemed strange to me; I supposed they might be begging the sky to give back their leaves, or maybe they were complaining to God that the ground had stolen their leaves.
All of my friends were there except Zuhal. She had been absent for a week, and I asked why she hadn’t been at school. I wanted to call her cell phone. But Sahra, Zuhal’s cousin, said Zuhal had died. I didn’t ask anything more; everyone was shocked. Then Sahra told us the story. “Last week her family prepared to leave Afghanistan and go to Europe illegally, by ship. They sold their house to give money to smugglers.” Sahra insisted that they left their homeland to live in a secure country. But they were unlucky. Their ship sank and no one could find their bodies. Tears fell from Sahra’s eyes and our faces fell; all signs of our happiness disappeared.
Everything became dark for me after that, like tonight’s sky. I cursed the furious waves of the sea, and the winds that had driven them. It wasn’t right for Zuhal to drown, drinking the salty water of the sea. She deserved to survive and thrive. She deserved the opportunity to help develop her country. And not only Zuhal—there are too many people from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq risking their lives to escape from war.
As I was dreaming of a world with lasting peace, a star began twinkling. It was like a hope for me, lighting the sky, a reminder that if we don’t give up, we can also make our world and our country bright; establishing peace so that people want to stay.
Photo by Afghanistan Matters.
Oh, Mahtab, such a beautiful and sad story. Your language is powerful and beautiful. Your images paint pictures for me. I think you are the twinkling star, lighting the sky for so many women. Thank you. –Pat
Wow, such an inspiring essay. It made me to cry, I hope everyone survives. I hope we don’t face such challenges and problems any longer in our country. I hope we get rid of all these Talibans or ISIS. I hope one day we live peacefully in our country.
Mahtab jan I’m really proud of you! It was truly beautiful and heart touching piece, a bitter fact though. I appreciate your emotions and feelings. Please keep it up!
My dearest friend thanks for your inspiration.
Mahtab — Your essay made me cry imagining how many people like your dear friend, Zuhal, have died in a desperate attempt to find peace. It is so heartbreaking but the star you wrote about and your hope shored me up and made believe as you do that if everyone keeps trying peace is possible.
Love and all best wishes, Nancy
Good Job Mahtab. I like your writing.
Mahtab, I am so sorry that you had go through such a heart wrenching experience, at such a young age. Your story has made me realize that I should be grateful for the opportunities that are present for me. I now understand how valuable the opportunities I have are, and that I must take advantage of them. I also sincerely hope that the challenges present in your country, will soon vanish. Furthermore, I hope that peace will return to your country, so that everyone will have a pathway to success. Your essay is very inspiring and powerful, and will have a lasting effect on me. As a result, of your essay, I will forever cherish that I live in a land of many opportunities. In addition, I will try to raise awareness of the struggles in countries like yours, so changes can be made.